A donor has been making generous annual gifts consistently for years. Then, 3 years ago, the giving abruptly stops. No one on the team has a clear understanding why this donor stopped giving.
You decide to reach out to this donor and see if you can set up a visit. The donor agrees.
What would be the goal for this visit?
For many advancement folks, the answer to this question might be, “to get the donor giving again.”
But, going into a visit like this with that particular goal includes the significant risk of damaging the relationship beyond repair.
The far better, more productive response to this question is simply, “to understand why the giving stopped 3 years ago.”
Something happened. Perhaps it was a personal or professional change that disrupted their giving to your institution. Perhaps it was an incident that soured their relationship with your institution. Perhaps a decision was made with which they did not agree. Whatever it was, something most likely happened.
When our goal is to listen and seek better understanding, we can almost never misstep.
Authentically pursuing the donor’s story, whatever that story may include, is the first and most important goal of any outreach.
Especially when the donor’s behavior suggests there may be a story worth pursuing.